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Diversity: Impact on Vaccine Equity (DIVE)

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In partnership with Bytes for All, Grand Synergy Development Initiative and Verité Research, for this final report, Minority Rights Group International analyzed Covid-19 vaccine confidence, uptake and access among indigenous Amazigh in Algeria, Muslim Somalis and other local minority and indigenous communities in Kenya, religious minorities in Pakistan, and Tamil and Muslim communities in Sri Lanka.

Our mixed-methods approach is based on evaluation of information gathered in each context with two methods:

  • The first method involved the use of social media listening and monitoring tools, including CrowdTangle.
  • The second method served to triangulate the findings from monitoring social media and was different for each setting: a largescale face-to-face survey in Sri Lanka, 30 radio talk shows in various locations in Kenya, 13 citizen journalism pieces from different parts of Pakistan, and four focus group discussions (FGDs) with participants inside Algeria or involving diaspora representatives.

In all the locations that we analyzed, misinformation was widespread among both majority and minority communities through social media and word of mouth, which affected confidence levels.

  • When data is disaggregated by ethnicity, language and religion, potentially significant differences emerge which may help to explain residual pockets of non-vaccination in Sri Lanka, or the fivefold difference in vaccination rates in different areas of Kenya.
  • Although reported problems in access were low, they were higher among minority communities and in some cases unique to experiences of minority communities, such as in Pakistan and Algeria.
  • Confidence and access as factors affecting vaccine uptake were secondary to a pre-existing problem – distrust in authorities, which is generally high among both the majority and minority population. In the case of Sri Lanka, however, it is higher among minority communities, and in Kenya, the findings demonstrate a fundamental breakdown in the relationship of trust between the community and health workers, health authorities and broader political authorities.
  • On the other hand, evidence shows that community and religious figures play a vital role in building confidence in vaccines and tackling misinformation, which indicates their significance in health-related efforts and in building inclusivity and accessibility among minorities.

This research shows that a one-size-fits-all approach disregards religion, language and ethnicity, and is therefore at high risk of being partially ineffective and leaving groups behind. In the era of the Sustainable Development Goals, such an approach is outdated and not in line with international commitments made by all UN member states.

Our research suggests that a nationwide effort may reap low results and that a more effective approach would be to invest in local-level efforts, with the visible involvement of trusted health professionals, religious leaders and others not associated with national politics, so reducing the risk of information being discounted or ignored as a result of high levels of distrust.

This Bulletin was published in the context of MRG’s Diversity: Impact on Vaccine Equality (DIVE) programme (2021-2022).

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